My Whim is Law

…where a single parent in Portland still believes that wishing will make it so…

You can’t escape home (with an update on 8/24/2013)

UPDATE: My father lost his battle with cancer this morning – August 24, 2013. Thankfully, he went without pain and with nothing left undone. At the end of the day, we can ask for nothing less, can we?

I wasn’t going to go back there.

Not now, anyway. Or not ever, if I could help it.

I’d left Michigan 23 years ago. Left to move towards something, of course. But also away from plenty of bad memories & toxic behaviors.

And while there were also good memories mixed in with the bad, or relationships that were decidedly non-toxic – there was nothing really compelling to lure me back home.

Or so I thought. And so I kept telling myself.

But this time? The undertow – in the form of metatasized cancer throughout his body – was finally sucking my dad out to sea. I really didn’t need to see that for myself, did I?

Yes, it’s true that I left for valid reasons. But here’s the deeper truth: I was afraid to go back.

I’d fought to stay clear of the toxic, to harden my heart, to pretend it was a part of my past best left alone. I didn’t want to revisit the scene of so many crimes, buried mostly-dead, left to fester.

Except that you can only heal the past, quiet the fears by facing them head-on.

I’m writing this from a cramped middle seat on a crappy flight from Detroit to Phoenix, with long-overdue tears running down my face. I was lucky enough to spend the last two days with my family – the brother, his wife & family who’ve taken my father into their home, the sister who drove in with her brood from the ‘other’ Portland.

And my dad. For the first time in 13 years.

We didn’t have to exhume anything, drag out long-gone wrongs, or attempt to heal any wounds.

Instead, we watched football. Went through old photo albums. Ate too much food. Near the end of our visit yesterday, I went into his bedroom, where he sat in his easy chair facing the picture window. He told me quietly how glad he was that I came. How strong he knew I was, how proud he was of his grandkids. And he told me that he loved me.

And when I told him I loved him too, he said simply “I know”.

I know, too, Dad. Thank you for reminding me of what matters most.

Posted in I'm *Serious* Here | 1 Comment

Wallowing hip-deep in the toxicity again…

…and it’s mostly my own damned fault.

(I wish I could be one of those bloggers who only talks about the good stuff & pretends that the bad stuff doesn’t exist in a ‘la la la la LA’ kind of way – but I’m not wired that way. Or else I like revealing my own flaws too much. Go figure…)

Mostly, but not entirely. The ‘hip-deep’ part? It’s due to the ever-present hip/back pain that’s the side effect of this pleasant event.

The toxicity? Yeah, that’s squarely on me. Let’s just say that I’m trying to self-medicate the pain with one too many nights out; am falling back on some old patterns that it’s hard to shake loose of. And yeah – I’m definitely doing the ‘look at the bright & shiny objects on the side of the road’ instead of dealing with the gritty truths that are sitting right in front of me begging me to just deal with them already.

Why don’t I? (Shrug) Don’t wanna right now. Wanna make something of it?

(Insert your own particular flavor of bratty three – or thirteen – year old behavior here instead if you wanna. I’ll be waiting for you to join me ———-> right over here)

And why have I reverted to a woman who lets a mostly-minor car accident totally knock me off my game? Or someone who will willingly put up with people who will happily walk all over her – and then ask for ‘more, please’? Or the grammar & spelling nazi who just used the word ‘wanna’ three times in a row?

Well, that’s where the ‘wallow’ part comes in.

See, it’s not the auto accident (or the resulting injury) that’s completely knocked me for a loop. It’s not the guys I’ve been toying with – not really.

Instead, it’s what’s now happening to the first man I ever fell in love with. The first man I walked away from. Continue reading

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What will your legacy be?

I’ve been watching with bemusement as the scandal exploded in the wake of Oregonian Editorial Page Editor Bob Caldwell’s fatal heart attack.

At first, I was really concerned for my own mortality – a 63-year-old man dies suddenly of a heart attack? ACK! He’s in my soon-to-be achieved age bracket, so I might want to step up my own ‘get healthy’ plan in doubletime!

And then I shrugged my shoulders and sniggered a little when it was revealed that he’d been getting a little ‘something-something’ on the side, and said heart attack occurred after an afternoon rendezvous with a 20-something woman who was most definitely NOT his wife.

On one hand, I get it. I’m almost 50 years old – I know the landscape of infidelity, the ebb and flow of desire (or even likeability, for that matter), and the challenge of staying in tune with one single other human for decades. And I know first how fragile and/or flawed we humans are – even while we rush to judgment on others in order to better cover up our own flaws.

On the other hand (and as an ex-wife myself), I empathized with his wife and three daughters, especially after I read the comment on the OregonLive article breaking the scandal from Bob’s daughter, Kate:

I am Kate Caldwell, Bob’s daughter. This is the text of a message my mom sent out earlier today:

“To all of our friends and family:

I fear that today’s news about the circumstances of Bob’s death may have caused you more sadness. I apologize on his behalf. Bob was a kind, loving and fair man. He would have understood why The Oregonian needed to print the story and he also would have regretted the anguish that it caused to those he loves — both outside and inside of the newspaper. We love him unconditionally. Thanks to all of you for your loving support.”

I speak for all my sisters when I say that we loved our dad more than anything.

And then what was entirely theoretical got immensely personal yesterday morning for me when I learned that my Uncle Gordy – at the upper end of the age bracket that both Bob & I loosely shared – lost his battle to live after complications following his second open-heart surgery. Continue reading

Posted in Boss Lady, I'm *Serious* Here, Media Rants (& Raves) | 2 Comments

On becoming visible again

[Yep, it’s another navel-gazing post that may be of interest to a very small subset of folks. Yes, there’s a big honking Disclaimer at the end! Might want to save your observations until you read it…]

For the longest time, I’ve felt like I’ve been invisible.

I’m used to being an appendage – seen in relation to my role as someone else’s mother… daughter… co-worker… friend for as long as I can remember. And while I’m perfectly willing to put myself Out There with people I know and feel comfortable with, well – the rest of the time? I was happy to blend into the woodwork. Not call attention to myself, not truly be seen.

I was happy to have my physical being not necessarily acknowledged as the first thing you noticed about me when you met me in person. Would rather have the softening relationship – or alternatively, to have you already know about my snarky sense of humor. My ace trivia skills. My brilliant children, knowledge of the PDX dining scene, or my stellar organizing abilities.

Something, anything to ease that instinctive knee-jerk reaction, the look that glanced down – and then quickly over to the side. The look that said “Oh yeah – and she’s pretty fat too, isn’t she?”

And – more often than not – the look that would then dismiss me. Continue reading

Posted in Boss Lady, I'm *Serious* Here, Oversharing | Leave a comment

The first step? You have to hate yourself.

(I’ve been composing bits and pieces of this post in my head for months now – not quite sure if I was ready to put it out there quite yet. Thanks to Leslie’s comment on my previous post, though – I’m now ready to let it fly – and it’s guaranteed to offend someone. If that someone is you? I will both apologize to you for inadvertently causing pain while still standing behind what is, after all, my own perspective, written from my own experience. Caveat: it’s long, and written in stream-of-consciousness-style, so won’t be edited/condensed much. It’s the only real way to get it out, don’t you know…)

I have been a morbidly obese and/or mostly-obese woman for almost all of my adult life now (and a large portion of my pre-and teenage years as well, to be honest).

I know intimately what it’s like to be a fat person. To live in a fat person’s body, to absorb all of the judgments, assumptions or negative emotions directed at the body I lumbered around in. To borrow from an old cliche – I’ve soaked in it for years and years and years now.

And I’ve simultaneously spent years and years and years denying that very tangible reality. That wasn’t all that I was, after all. I was the brainy one. The shy one. The one who awkwardly learned how to put that ‘personality-plus’ facade on at the drop of the hat. The one who was also a foodie, eating the ‘right’ foods and not eating the ‘crappy and/or unhealthy’ stuff (so I could don the ‘I’m doing it right, at least’ mantle – I don’t drink *soda*, don’t you know…). The one who moved beyond her physical being… overcompensated… or gravitated towards people who saw beyond the body I inhabited – the body that didn’t define who I was as a person. Right? (As long as I didn’t look into a mirror…)

Except that for many people – the people who make snap judgments based on the most obvious elements (and we all do that, you know), well – it did define who I was. And if I were being truly honest with myself – well, it mattered deeply to me as well. In fact, I hated the way that I showed up to the world.

Of course, if you both hate yourself and refuse to do anything to change the situation – you have little choice but to repress the way you feel. For me, that meant I became dead from the neck down. Wouldn’t look at myself in a mirror, didn’t want to see pictures of myself. Out of sight, out of mind – so I could move into ‘la la la la la’ mode and invent a reality where I was pretty damned close to perfect, or more like I wanted to show up in the world.

Or I convinced myself that this wasn’t something I had any control over. Whether it was bad genes (family history of diabetes), bad parenting (mom fed me nothing but crap), economic realities (raised by a single mom meant we only had boxed carbs on the table) or bad habits (who walked anywhere in Michigan, otherwise known as snow-buried Motor City?) – well, I had a plethora of outs to choose from.

Besides – in a world where we all want to feel good about ourselves in order to survive the rat race that seeks to grind us into the dirt every single day of our lives – who really wants to feel *bad* about one’s self, anyway?

Except that the only way you can change the situation – the one, after all, that you were part of creating (no matter what the excuse-crooning siren songs might tell you above) – is to hate yourself first. And you really can’t begin to change until you’re willing to do just that.

Continue reading

Posted in Caveman Eating, Get Betsy Healthy, I'm *Serious* Here | Leave a comment
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